Community College of Rhode Island

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The Student Experience

The Student Experience
Student View

We will begin by looking at a course from the student perspective. Each course will vary depending on the instructor. However, there are some features common to every course:

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A. Header Frame - consists of the "myBlackboard" and "Courses" tab.

B. Course Menu - the access point for all course content and tools. Instructors decide which links are available here.

C. Content Frame - the area displays the selected tool or Content Area. By default, when you enter a course, the Home Page appears. The instructor may change the default.


Clicking the "less than" sign to the right of the "Course Menu" will hide the Course Menu. Click it again to unhide the menu.

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Home Page:

The Home Page contains modules that provide students with an intuitive way to navigate through Blackboard and keep abreast of content additions and due dates. The default modules are selected by the administrator, but the instructor can delete, add, and reorder modules. The two modules most relevant for students are the "What's New" module and the "To Do" module.

What's New Module

  • Contains links to any new content, such as assignments, tests, newly graded items, and unread Discussion Board messages.

To Do Module

  • Divided into What's Past Due and What's New
  • Provides a chronological listing of upcoming due dates, which can be used as the launching point for a student's daily course work.

Each item has a contextual menu that allows you to open or dismiss the item. When you open an item, you are taken directly to the content. If you dismiss an item, it is removed from the module.

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Email and Messages Tools

There are a variety of tools in Blackboard 9 that allow students to communicate with each other and with the instructor. The Email tool and the Messages tool are two of the tools commonly used for this purpose.

Email Tool:

  • Allows you to send messages to anyone associated with your Blackboard course by using CCRI email addresses, such as
  • Each time participants log into their CCRI email accounts, they can conveniently access both personal and course-related messages.

Messages Tool:

  • Allows you to send messages to anyone associated with your Blackboard course without using external email addresses.
  • Accounts are automatically created for each participant and messages are sent and received through the Messages tool. This provides additional privacy, because external email addresses are not used.
  • Students are not automatically notified when they receive a new message, so they must log into the course regularly and check for messages.
Discussion Board

Another commonly used tool in Blackboard is the Discussion Board tool. Discussions offer an important vehicle for the interpersonal interaction and can be created to serve a range of purposes:

  • An online meeting place for social interaction among peers.
  • A medium to pose questions about homework assignments, readings, and course content.
  • A graded activity that demonstrates understanding or application of course material.

Each Discussion Board contains one or more forums. A forum is an area where the topic or a group of related topics are discussed. Within each forum, there can be multiple threads.

  • A thread is the initial post and any replies to it.
  • A post is a message within the thread.

The main Discussion Board page displays a list of available discussion forums. For each forum, the page displays the following:

  • Total number of posts
  • Number of unread posts
  • Number of course members who participated in the forum

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A. Click the forum name to view the messages.

B. View the data on the number of posts and participants.

C. The Unread Posts column provides one-click access to the forum's unread messages.

Other Tools

Below is a brief look at some other frequently used tools.


The Announcements tool is used by instructors to communicate important, time-sensitive information. Through announcements, students can find out about the following:

  • Corrections and clarifications related to materials
  • Assignment due dates or exam schedules
  • Reminders or tips for success


Students can consult the Course Calendar to see events the instructor has added, such as:

  • Reminders of course meetings and chat sessions
  • Due dates for assignments and projects
  • Suggested milestones to help keep students on track


  • Students can use the Roster tool to search for users enrolled in the course.


From the contacts page, students can view the instructor's contact details, office hours, and other personal data. They can also learn about teaching assistants and upcoming guest speakers.


The Assignments tool allows students to view and submit assignments. Students can subit assignments as:

  • Text which they enter directly on the Assignments page
  • Attached files
  • A combination of both text and attached files


The Tests tool allows instructors to test and evaluate their students’ knowledge and application of course material. Tests can consist of various types of questions, including multiple choice, essay, and matching. Instructors can also create self tests to allow participants to evaluate themselves. Students can also take surveys, which are ungraded. Surveys can be used by instructors to conduct opinion polls or to evaluate their own teaching.

My Grades:

Students can view their course grades from the My Grades tool. Grades are available by default; however, instructors may choose to make some grades unavailable.

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Last Updated: 8/13/13